Fifty Years of Godless Schools – the Cause of America’s Moral Decline?

By William J. Murray
Fifty years after the removal of prayer from America’s public schools in a case brought by my mother, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, there is virtually no safe place in America for children of any age — not in their schools, not even in their own homes.

America today is a society in which one of every eighteen adult men is either in prison, on parole or under some sort of judicial oversight. There are almost daily reports of female teachers seducing young boys. Most children can’t walk to school because it is not safe. Public libraries now display the same gross pornography that landed Larry Flint in jail decades ago. Gambling, once outlawed in all but one of our states, is now a chief source of revenue for most states. Lotteries, the most abusive and dishonest form of gambling, is state operated and steals money disproportionately from the poor.
Loving Christian couples in several states cannot adopt children in the current culture because they are declared bigots for not accepting homosexual sex as normal. Courts have ruled that a girl thirteen or younger can buy an abortion drug – the “morning after” pill – over the counter, and use this powerful drug without permission of parents or a doctor. Lavish cannabis-infused dinner parties are the new norm for the social elite.
Today’s culture has descended into a decadence very different from the idealized days of “Leave It to Beaver,” “I Love Lucy and “Mayberry R.F.D.”  Is all this the result of Murray vs. Curlett and the removal of prayer from our schools? For decades, I truly believed that the court case which is named for me and in which I was the teenage plaintiff before my conversion to Christianity, caused all this social destruction.
Looking back over fifty years, I now believe that although unquestionably destructive, the removal of prayer was not so much a cause as a result of the social forces swirling through the nation in the 1960’s that I was a part of. While my mother managed the Communist Party bookstore in Baltimore, Maryland and was the chairman of the pro-Castro, Fair Play for Cuba Committee, I was far from being the poor outcast atheist boy at school. I was the president of the United Nations Club at my high school, the gathering place for the far left. In those days radical unions associated with the International Workers of the World controlled most major ports in America. The Weather Underground was killing cops and robbing banks for the “revolution” and Charles Manson led a cult that killed far more people than he was ever tried for. Meanwhile, Harvard Professor Timothy Leary advocated LSD for everyone.
During the 1960’s the drug and “gay” counter-culture of San Francisco flourished, and nude bathing at a park in Austin, Texas began. New York City in the 1960’s was far worse than portrayed in the movie The Cross and the Switchblade; the city was a hell hole on the edge of bankruptcy. Anti-War protests encouraged by money from the Soviet KGB filled the streets of cities with angry youth, and a communist by the name of Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy.
The 1963 case removing prayer from the schools did not alone bring all of this about; rather, the case was a result of the culture of the 1960’s. An activist Supreme Court was led by a former Republican governor who was a radical on moral issues and who saw himself as the leading edge of the sexual and cultural revolution of the 1960’s. Atheistic communism was seen as inevitable, and the Soviet Union as unstoppable.
The nation is now populated not with the children of the Greatest Generation who believed in sacrifice for the good of the whole, but with the children of the 1960’s counter-culture induced by drugs and “free” sex. The cohesive three generation family and the stability it represented, has been obliterated not by the lack of three minutes of prayer in the schools, but by a systematic economic attack by government that began long before the 1963 prayer case. As government replaced the family, the church and God as the center of individuals’ lives, moral decay was an inevitable result.
Social Security, Medicare and extravagant welfare programs have driven grandma and grandpa out of the three generational home and to warmer climates. Free from the responsibility of caring for aging parents, the “me generation” became enabled to concentrate on pleasure and material success. Religion became an impediment to pre-marital sex, divorce, alcohol, drug use, gambling and materialism. The safety net became so broad that the family was simply no longer so necessary for rearing children. The public schools, with hot breakfast and lunch served along with birth control information and in many states actual contraceptive devices and pills, became a more welcome and permissive parent to teens than any actual parent could be. Free medical programs such as SCHIP removed the responsibly of medical care of their children from even middle class families, to free up even more cash to satisfy selfish desires.
The end of organized prayer in schools was a crippling blow to our nation because it removed the authority of God from the schools. The authority of God, which the teachers operated under, has now been replaced by metal detectors, drug sniffing dogs and armed patrols to keep order. But the drift to moral decay and self-indulgence did not begin with the removal of prayer from the schools. The cultural war was lost in the 1960’s in the midst of bean bag chairs, lava lamps, cheap wine and marijuana smoke. It has taken decades for many who were isolated in their churches and private schools to realize that the cultural war was lost long ago and that America has become a society hauntingly similar to 1790’s England, a time when no one dared refer to oneself as a believing Christian in public.
Would returning two or three minutes of devotion and prayer in the public schools remove the need for the thousands of masked SWAT teams with body armor and automatic assault rifles who are now used to arrest even shop lifters? Hardly, as we now have a sizeable segment of the population in our nation whose required daily prayers call for the death and destruction of “infidels.” Those prayers would have to be included with those of Christians and Jews, causing even more hatred and hostility than already exists in our fragmented society. Under one God, America was a melting pot. Today it is a multi-cultural society which has no common belief, and just a tri-colored piece of cloth as a symbol of unity.
Is there a solution to the downward swirl and moral decay? Our nation desperately needs a William Wilberforce, someone in leadership to set an example with an exemplary life, and who is not afraid to declare his testimony of Jesus Christ. A man such as Wilberforce who changed England and eliminated slavery without war, because it was the right thing to do in the eyes of the Lord. Rather we have churches attempting to be more like the world around them, instead of changing the world around them.
God save the Republic. We need prayer for our families and in our families. We need prayer for our nation and in our nation. Obsessing with what the case of Murray vs. Curlett did or did not do, or the moral havoc my dysfunctional mother, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, brought to this nation, solves nothing. All of those who love God and care about the nation must now work for a society where human beings made in the image of God are once again treated as His creations, and not as subjects of our increasingly controlling and militaristic government that seeks to replace God with over bloated bureaucracy.

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